Friday, December 6, 2013

Jackie Chan: Global Action Hero

As published in Issue #47 of F*** Magazine.



By Jedd Jong
Jackie Chan has become synonymous with eye-popping daredevil stunts, a penchant for combining physical comedy with fisticuffs and having broken darn near every bone in his body for the sake of our entertainment. The ever-spry 59 (!) year-old multi-hyphenate headlines Police Story 2013, out this month, and has earned the title of “international superstar” not just in terms of his fan base around the world but also in terms of the sheer number of varied locales in which he has made movies. While his films have employed cultural stereotypes more than a few times, they’ve also taken viewers around the world Jackie-style. F*** takes a brief look at the trail the Asian Hawk has blazed around the world.

Who Am I?

The climax of the 1998 film Who Am I? involves an amnesiac Jackie Chan sliding down the side of the Willemswerf Building in Rotterdam, completely unassisted. No wires, no green screen, just Jackie Chan performing one of the most dangerous stunts of his career. We suspect he alternated between cries of “whee!” and “ahh!” Earlier in the film, he uses traditional wooden clogs found in a street market as improvised weapons.


The Myth

In 2005’s The Myth, Jackie Chan plays an archaeologist haunted by visions of what may be his past life as an ancient Chinese general. He visits Hampi, a village in the Northern Indian state of Karnataka and the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this portion of the film, Jackie appears alongside Bollywood actors Mallika Sherawat and Ram Gopal Bajaj.

The Accidental Spy

In 2001’s The Accidental Spy, Jackie Chan plays exercise equipment salesman Buck Yuen, an everyman who through a seemingly random series of events gets caught in an international web of espionage. His journey takes him to Istanbul, Turkey, in search of a bank. He watches a performance of whirling Dervishes, gets attacked in a Turkish bath and chased through a bazaar clad in nothing but a towel – which, of course, he eventually loses.

Police Story 4: First Strike

In Police Story 4: First Strike, also known as Jackie Chan’s First Strike, Chan Ka-Kui goes from tracking down a stolen nuclear warhead in the Ukraine to sunny Gold Coast and Brisbane in the Australian state of Queensland. The missing device has been disguised as an oxygen tank and hidden in the UnderWaterWorld aquarium at Moolalooba on the Sunshine Coast. Where in the aquarium? The shark tank, of course! Not only does Jackie Chan take on one of nature’s most fearsome predators, he also engages in exciting underwater kung fu action. Also, witness Jackie Chan get the seal of approval:

Wheels on Meals

Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao play cousins who run a food truck in Barcelona, Spain. And that’s the least random part of this 1984 comedy that also stars Sammo Hung. Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao also try to throw someone off the roof of the Sagrada Família, a cathedral that has been under construction since 1882 and is still awaiting completion. See Jackie Chan on a skateboard! Experience Spanish biker gangs making trouble for our meal-vending cousins! Witness the infiltration of the villains’ castle!

Rush Hour 3

A common trend in movie series is that a sequel will invariably go foreign, and this was true for the third film in the Rush Hour franchise. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker got the chance to both be fishes out of water in the French capital, running afoul of a police officer played by Roman Polanski.  Several other Jackie Chan films were filmed in France, including Armour of God and the recent CZ12, but it was in Rush Hour 3 that Jackie got to have a swordfight with Hiroyuki Sanada in the Jules Verne Restaurant that spilled out onto the exterior of the Eiffel Tower.

The Karate Kid

Jackie Chan was closer to his home turf in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid (more accurately titled Kung Fu Dreams for its Chinese release), but it still counts as an exotic locale to the American audiences for whom the film was primarily made. Jackie Chan plays Mr. Han, analogous to the Mr. Miyagi character immortalised by the late Pat Morita. It ended up being one of Jackie’s finest dramatic performances. In place of a bratty Ralph Macchio is a bratty Jaden Smith, and the numerous training sequences showcased the Chinese landscape as much as Jackie’s martial arts prowess.

The Medallion

The Medallion is certainly far from Jackie Chan’s finest hour, but we like to think that he had an epic pub crawl or two while on location in Dublin, Ireland. As a Hong Kong cop partnering up with Interpol in search of a child with mystical powers, Jackie didn’t get to duke it out with a leprechaun (alas) but with Julian Sands. Dublic Castle and Dunluce Castle were among the locations chosen, though the castle interiors were shot on stages in Thailand.

Armour of God II: Operation Condor

The Armour of God films give Jackie Chan the chance to play an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer for hire, and the 1991 sequel was mostly shot in the North African nation of Morocco. In Armour of God II: Operation Condor, Asian Hawk is tasked with retrieving 240 tons of stolen Nazi gold, and his quest leads him to a subterranean base. He also finds wheelchair-bound villain Adolf (Aldo Sambrell). Prop Moroccan money went missing on the set, and Moroccan officials accused the crew of counterfeiting, resulting in Jackie serving a three month stint in jail.

Pretty much all the rest of his movies

For the last destination on our itinerary, let’s take a look at Jackie Chan’s birthplace: Hong Kong. Jackie’s personal politics have become very controversial as of late, but that’s not what we’re highlighting here. Few have been able to present Hong Kong on screen like the martial artist and he has made full use of its unique urban landscape in staging stunts and action choreography. He’s hung off the side of a double-decker bus by an umbrella in Police Story, fallen off the roof of the Hong Kong Convention Centre in New Police Story, clambered on the underside of a roller coaster track in Ocean Park for Rob-B-Hood and ran buck-naked through the streets alongside Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2. His wax figure is also undoubtedly the star attraction at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.


Post a Comment